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Magazines > Computers in Libraries > March 2016

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Vol. 36 No. 2 — March 2016
Back to the Drawing Board
by Dick Kaser

Automated library systems have been in a constant state of flux since their emergence in the 1970s. IT has morphed many times in the years since, keeping all of us on a perpetual learning curve and constantly on our toes.

Over the years, the case studies in CIL have followed the evolution of library cataloging systems to ILSs and on to comprehensive library platforms. But, as Marshall Breeding observes in his column this month, each library still has to weigh the trade-offs between the efficiency of a single, unified system and the flexibility that may be gained by having multiple solutions in place.

The authors of the case studies in this issue come at this conundrum from a variety of directions. They share how they weighed their options and reached their decisions for developing their own solutions, instead of going with something off-the-shelf or out-of-the-box.

  • David Cirella describes his simple, yet elegant, solution for handling course reserves without using either the library’s ILS or the university’s CMS.
  • Judith Logan and Lisa Gayhart describe how they abandoned a vendor’s solution for supporting user documentation by crafting their own portal.
  • Malisa Anderson-Strait describes how she improved the findability of research databases not by getting a new search system, but by using analytics to beef up metadata tags.
You probably won’t want to go through the effort of reinventing your online catalog, ILS, or discovery service anytime soon. However, as the authors in this issue prove, many practical challenges may be resolved virtually on-the-fly these days. Hats off to those inventive librarians featured in this issue who took the initiative to invent a solution to fit their every need.

Dick Kaser, Executive Editor

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